Every year in August, I head to Ellston, Iowa for the Brown family reunion.  It's about a 6 hour drive with a few stops.  One of those stops is dedicated to The Freedom Rock. Among the wind turbines and corn fields there is a 60-ton granite boulder just off I-80 at the Greenfield exit.  For the last 15 years, that 'rock' has been been painted with murals to honor the sacrifices that our service men and women make to keep our country safe.

The rock sits just off Highway 25 in Adair County in southwest Iowa, 12 miles north of Greenfield.  The rock has been there for years and was often graffitied.  In 1999, mural artist Ray 'Bubba' Sorenson painted a simple 'Thank You' to our vets with a picture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima on the rock and since then, it has become known as 'The Freedom Rock.'   Sorenson was inspired by the movie "Saving Private Ryan."  He wanted to do something as a thank you to those who served and sacrificed.  Every year since 1999, just before Memorial Day, Sorenson has painted a new mural on the rock.

According to an interview with Fox News, Sorenson said his theme is inspired by letters and stories from veterans or families of veterans who have served our country.  In 2006, a family of a veteran asked him if they could scatter some of the ashes of their loved one around the rock.  Since then, 60 veterans ashes have been mixed with the green paint for use in the helicopter on the rock.

One of Sorenson's goals is to have a Freedom Rock in all 99 Iowa counties.  Nineteen counties already have a Freedom Rock with several more committing to one.

One of these days, Sorenson would like to have a Freedom Rock in every state.

The next time you're driving on I-80 to Des Moines, take a quick jaunt off the interstate on Highway 25 and visit the Freedom Rock.

This video was taken while Sorenson was repainting the rock in 2009.


Get more information about the Freedom Rock here.

Here are a few of the pictures of the Freedom Rock that I've taken over the years.


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